How to prune an apple tree in spring
If you ask what kind of tree is in almost every site, the answer will be obvious — an apple tree. A popular garden culture requires certain agrotechnical actions, one of the most important among them is pruning an apple tree in spring.
Why spring pruning of apple trees is necessary
The main purpose of pruning apple trees in spring is to increase fruiting and improve fruit characteristics (weight, taste, color). But these are not all aspects that encourage the gardener to start pruning trees in the apple orchard immediately after wintering.
The reason for pruning apple trees can be:
- The need to form a symmetrical crown to ensure convenient fruit picking.
- Changing the height of a tree by shortening the crown.
- Removal of diseased or broken branches in the crown of an apple tree.
- Ensuring uniform illumination of the tree crown by removing thickening growth. The direction of air flow inside the crown.
- Formation of the tree skeleton in annual seedlings.
Experienced gardeners know that pruning of apple trees can be done in spring and autumn, but they almost always try to time this procedure with spring time. The thing is that after wintering, the branches of apple trees can freeze, break from the weight of heavy snow caps lying on the branches, so the early removal of damaged parts of the crown allows you to save energy for the formation of the crop. The tree directs its forces not to the healing of diseased branches; cuts in the spring overgrow faster, without causing complications and damage to the wood.
Pruning young trees
Young apple tree seedlings, pruned in spring, have time to form skeletal branches during the season, gain strength for wintering. The forces of the seedling after pruning are aimed at forming a harmonious crown, the young tree does not waste energy and nutrients on growing numerous weak shoots.
In terms of timing, the first pruning of a seedling is carried out immediately after planting in open ground, which reduces stress from mechanical damage to the roots, which cannot be avoided during transportation and the most careful transplantation. Pruning the ground part of the tree allows you to establish a supply of nutrients and balance the access of moisture to all parts of the seedling.
The correct algorithm for pruning young apple trees:
- The central trunk is pruned at a height of 50 cm, leaving three or four symmetrically arranged strong lateral shoots on the tree.
- Lateral shoots are cut to 2/3 of the original length.
Subsequent pruning is carried out annually in the spring until the apple trees reach the age of 4 years. The crown is formed in the form of tiers, while the length of the main conductor is set 25 cm more than other branches. The lateral upper branches are pruned more strongly than the lateral upper shoots. The crown of the tree is cut in the form of a bush. Such pruning allows for excellent access to ripening fruits during harvest, promotes uniform ventilation and illumination of the crown.
Important! An adult apple tree should have 5 to 6 skeletal branches.
How to prune an old apple tree
If old apple trees grow in your garden that have ceased to bring a rich harvest, do not rush to uproot these trees — old women can please with ruddy apples for a long time, but you just need to help them. And this help lies in pruning the crown of the tree.
Important! Old apple trees cannot be radically cut at a time; thinning of the crown is carried out carefully, stretching the operation for 2-3 years.
First, diseased, broken, rotten and frostbitten branches are cut from old trees. Do not save on the treatment of wound surfaces — old wood is very sensitive to rapid infection by fungi and bacteria. You can treat the cut sites with garden pitch, drying oil-based paint, cement mortar, special mastics and ready-made preparations (RanNet, RobinGreen, ZSP, BlagoSad), but this can be done after 2-3 days — the wound should dry out. If the weather is damp, precipitation is observed, the tree may need more time to dry the wound surfaces. It is not recommended to cover wet sections with a thick layer of garden pitch — this can work as a compress, as a result of which the wood will begin to rot under the cap.
The second and third pruning of old trees is aimed at the formation of new strong skeletal branches.
Basic rules for pruning a columnar apple tree
In recent years, interest in columnar crops has grown, because these varieties can be grown in small areas, sometimes they are even planted in containers. Like any other apple variety, columns require competent pruning, which allows you to increase productivity and achieve annual fruiting.
- The first year of cultivation (spring). The trunk is shortened to 50 cm, all side branches are removed.
- Second year of cultivation (spring). Overgrown lateral shoots are shortened to 30-40 cm.
- Third year of cultivation (spring). The central stem shoot is cut to 25 cm.
- Fourth year (spring). Thinning is carried out, removing all shoots growing inside the crown or at an angle of 90 degrees.
- Fifth year (spring). Tree growth is limited by pruning (height 3 m).
- Fifth year (summer). Crown thinning
- Sixth and subsequent years. Columnar apple trees are subjected to only the necessary sanitary pruning.
All operations in the apple orchard are carried out using clean, sharp tools. After processing the trees, you can be sure that the apple trees will pay back for the care a hundredfold.
And always remember that trees that survive the winter are nutrient deficient. Therefore, the first feeding of apple trees in early spring is just as important as pruning and pest control. It is she who is the key to the future harvest.